Home Trends: Reimagining Your Living Space
Today, homes must be multifunctional—serving as office, classroom and social center. To help bring these elements together, three Central Florida interior designers offer advice on reimagining your living space.
Your home should be your sanctuary but most homeowners struggle with envisioning exactly what that means or how to even begin creating that serene space. What does it take to have a space where you feel most comfortable, a place where you can relax and be yourself? Maybe you’ve considered a complete home renovation, but the job seems overwhelming. Or, you’d like to refresh your bedroom, but you’re not sure what you need. This is where a professional interior designer can help create a home that reflects your personal style.
“I think there’s a microscope on the home right now,” says Nathan Vanags, principal designer and owner of Nathan Vanags Design in Orlando. “When people were not spending as much time at home, pre-pandemic, it may not have seemed as important if your home didn’t reflect you.” Now, of course, our lives revolve around our homes, where everything takes place—from Zoom conference calls and classroom studies to family dinners and, hopefully, some quiet time.
Stager and designer Michelle Parrish notes that some of her clients are launching renovation projects that they had been putting off for months—even years. “More families are staying home now and realizing, ‘I really don’t like this,’ ” says Parrish, who owns JM Staging and Design in Oviedo with her sister and partner, Jenelle Ferrer. “Now they’re saying, ‘Let’s finally get it done.’ ”
It’s no surprise to her that a reconfiguration of the home office has become a frequent request among clients. “Before, it was mainly a space where mail and receipts would stack up,” Parrish says. Now, her clients are asking for ways to organize and store those papers, and they want to infuse their offices with more warmth and comfort.
She advises them: “We don’t necessarily have to have a desk and chair, but maybe we can add a small seating area so that when you’re on a Zoom call, you have a nice backdrop and good lighting.”
Vanags coaches his clients on how to use their existing space more effectively. “I think people get stagnant in their home office,” he says. “They are looking to us to design a more livable environment. With the versatility of technology, you really don’t need a designated home office anymore. It could be a desk somewhere that has an adjacent file cabinet.”
The objective is flexibility and mobility. A home office could be more a state of mind, with a few trusty electronics and a comfortable chair. Indeed, before meeting with clients, Vanags begins each day checking his company’s social media accounts while sitting on his balcony with a cup of coffee in hand.
Over the past year, Winter Park-based interior designer Ashley Martin has seen an increase in requests for playrooms and offices as well as rooms that can serve as both office and comfortable living space. “It seems as though the formal rooms are not as popular,” notes the owner of Ashley Martin Home. She says she serves her clientele best by combining modern and classic elements to create a balanced and livable home.
Trends, most designers agree, typically come and go quickly. However, there are some that have staying power. “Wood tones and veneers are really making a comeback,” notes Vanags. “It adds so much texture and variety to cabinetry. It’s very pleasing to the eye.” He’s also seeing black used as an accent color—in details such as metal finishes on fixtures.
Martin is a fan of two-tone cabinetry. “Warm, wood cabinets paired with painted cabinets and pretty hardware can transform a room,” she says. Lasting trends she sees this year are lots of texture, the mixing of metals, and leather as well as woven light fixtures.
The easiest way to revitalize your home is through the use of color and texture. Although gray in various shades has been popular of late, “we’re seeing more blues coming out,” says Parrish. She leans toward timeless, classic earth tones, including neutrals. “But I don’t shy away from bright tones on a wall, as long as it’s a color that matches the home. Colors are so powerful, the way they move our emotions,” she says.
When Parrish is choosing various color shades, she takes into consideration what will make her client feel cozy and homey vs. energetic and lively. If you have outdated bedroom furnishings, for instance, she suggests changing the color on the walls and adding fresh lighting fixtures and a different comforter. “You can reuse what you have and save your budget for bigger projects.”
No matter how big or small your home redesign, once it is complete there is a sense of accomplishment and excitement, says Vanags. “That’s when the client feels that their home reflects who they are and how they live, work and play.”
TIPS TO LIVE BY
Nathan Vanags says:
When accessory hunting, don’t look for one specific item for a shelf. Instead, gather things you love, bring them back home and see what works.
When you purchase a new home, take the extra time to choose the fixtures you want. It will give your home a custom look.
Add a scent. A scented candle can set the scene for comfort, or it could change the mood. Citrus is good if you want to feel bright and cheery. Go for sandalwood for a soothing, comfy vibe.
Michelle Parrish says:
Plants and greenery bring life into a room.
Pillows—22”x 22” or bigger—and throw blankets are an easy way to lighten up a dark sofa or update a space.
Rugs are often overlooked, but they can add just the right finishing touch.
Ashley Martin says:
Paint your walls a fresh shade of white. Martin’s go-to favorites are Pure White and Snowbound (both from Sherwin-Williams) and White Dove (from Benjamin Moore).
Add a touch of gold—in new accessories or picture frames—to give your rooms some warmth.